CBD Terminology - WildLifeRx


As quickly as the Cannabis-derived supplement industry grows, so does the confusion of terminology. In fact, the use of supplements vs prescription vs drug depends on whether a specific product is controlled, or has submitted documents to the AVMA, FDA or DEA. Here is clarification on frequently used industry terms from the scientists and physicians within the industry.

References can be found at the end. Questions or Comments? Please contact hello@wildliferx.com so we can better address your needs. 


The abbreviation of CBD - people both in-and-out of the industry use this term incorrectly. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid and was discovered in 1940. It is one of 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants and accounts for up to 40% of the plant's extract.


Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Of the over 480 different compounds present in the plant, only around 66 are termed cannabinoids. Cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid derived from Cannabis species, which is devoid of psychoactive activity, with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic and chemo-preventive activities. Upon administration, cannabidiol (CBD) exerts its anti-proliferative, anti-angiogenic and pro-apoptotic activity through various mechanisms, which likely do not involve signaling by cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), CB2, or vanilloid receptor 1. CBD stimulates endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and inhibits AKT/mTOR signaling, thereby activating autophagy and promoting apoptosis. In addition, CBD enhances the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which further enhances apoptosis. This agent also upregulates the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP1) and decreases the expression of inhibitor of DNA binding 1 (ID-1). This inhibits cancer cell invasiveness and metastasis. CBD may also activate the transient receptor potential vanilloid type 2 (TRPV2), which may increase the uptake of various cytotoxic agents in cancer cells. The analgesic effect of CBD is mediated through the binding of this agent to and activation of CB1. The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (Delta9-THC or Delta8-THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. The cannabinoids are separated into the following subclasses:

  • Cannabigerols (CBG)
  • Cannabichromenes (CBC)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
  • Other cannabinoids including cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE) and cannabitriol (CBT)

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The endocannabinoid system is one of the largest receptor systems in the mammalian body and is responsible for maintaining homeostasis. The ECS is comprised of endogenous cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and enzymes responsible for synthesis and degradation of endocannabinoids. It contains two receptors, the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor. Much of the ongoing research in this area is looking at how these molecules will affect the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system has been found to be pervasive in mammalian species. It has also been described in invertebrate species as primitive as the Hydra. Insects, apparently, are devoid of this, otherwise it is an ubiquitous system that provides homeostatic balance to the nervous and immune systems, as well as many other organ systems. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) includes three parts (1) endogenous ligands, (2) G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), and (3) enzymes to degrade and recycle the ligands. Two endogenous molecules have been discovered as ligands in the ECS thus far. The endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG. In addition, two G-coupled protein receptors (GPCR) are part of the system, with other putative GPC being considered.

Endocannabinoidome (ECM)

This is an expansion of the ECS, which includes other receptors that endogenous or plant-based cannabinoids bond with, such as the TRPV, opioid, serotonin, and nuclear receptors. Among these compounds, cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarin (CBDV), and THC propyl homologue D-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) are the ones that have been most tested in clinical studies. In addition, an eCBS has been discovered that encompasses several non-eCB long-chain fatty acid amides which include: (i) the congeners of anandamide and 2-AG; the N-acyl-aminoacids; acylated neurotransmitters such as the N-acyl-dopamines and N-acyl-serotonins; and the primary fatty acid amides. These lipid mediators often share with anandamide and 2-AG biosynthetic. This expanded eCBS, including more than 100 lipid mediators, 20 enzymes, and 20 receptors, is known as the endocannabinoidome.


Cannabis a term for a genus of plants that includes the marijuana and hemp plant. Hemp and hemp derived CBD are federally legal while marijuana and its derivatives are not. The cannabis plant has two main subspecies, Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa, and they can be differentiated by their different physical characteristics. Indica-dominant strains are short plants with broad, dark green leaves and have higher cannabidiol content than the sativa plants in which THC content is higher. Sativa-dominant strains are usually taller and have thin leaves with a pale green color. In the plant, cannabinoids are synthesized and accumulated as cannabinoid acids, but when the herbal product is dried, stored and heated, the acids decarboxylized. In 1971, a double-blind study with 40 healthy volunteers received orally administered d-9-THC and CBD were given independently and the mixtures of the two together. Pulse rate, time production tasks and psychological reactions were measured. D-9-THC alone increased pulse rate, disturbed time tasks and induced strong psychological reactions in the subjects, CBD alone provoked no such effects. However, CBD was efficient in blocking most of the effects of d-9-THC when both drugs were given together. Published results of this study, inspired the need for more clinical trials. In 1971, the Controlled Substance Act was formed which halted further development in this area.


These are the set of molecules that are coming from plants that work on the endocannabinoid system, as opposed to endocannabinoids or endogenous ligands, which are molecules created by the body to work on the endocannabinoid system. “Cannabinoids” is often used to refer to either endogenously produced or plant produced. A phytocannabinoids as any plant-derived natural product capable of either directly interacting with cannabinoid receptors or sharing chemical similarity with cannabinoids or both.


Terpenes are a set of molecules produced by many plants that add to the aroma of different fruits, flowers and plants in general. They are of a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants, especially conifers and citrus trees. They are based on a cyclic molecule having the formula C10H16, comprise more than 30,000 compounds and may have calming and anti-inflammatory properties. Some terpenes include Ocimene, Pinene, Terpinene, Limonene, Caryophyllene, Lonalool and Eucalyptol.

Entourage Effect

This refers to the synergy found when a full or complete spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes interact with ECS related enzymes. There is evidence that some cannabinoids boost the effects of other cannabinoids. Dr. Jordan Tishler MD, expert cannabis physician, and Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, states “The entourage effect has been proven but overgeneralized. There is irrefutable evidence, for example, that CBD … modulates the effects of THC at the main receptor site. The entourage effect also verifies that whole-plant cannabis products offers increased therapy but ideas that other chemicals are important for CBD to work are unsupported at present.”

Full Spectrum

Full Spectrum describes the maximum amount of native phytochemicals retained during extraction, including THC. There are no precise regulatory definitions, but the goal is to remove extraneous lipids while retaining an identical ratio of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from the original plant source material (which can only be verified by testing the material before and after the extraction). True full spectrum extracts are rare: most extractions lose significant terpenes and flavonoids during processing because they are much more volatile than cannabinoids. Ethanol and very low heat – the Rick Simpson oil (RSO) method or whole plant oil – or an extremely long vacuum extraction process can yield full spectrum extracts.

Broad Spectrum

Broad Spectrum applies to extractions which aim to retain a large complement of phytochemicals, but without the THC. Hemp, defined as cannabis plants containing <.3% THC, forms the basis for most broad spectrum extracts. Broad spectrum can also be created by either adding terpenes, flavonoids, and minor cannabinoids to CBD isolate, or by removing THC from full spectrum extract via distillation.


Distillate takes quite the opposite approach of full spectrum, seeking to remove everything but the cannabinoid(s) of interest. After undergoing solvent extraction, the concentrated oil is run (often multiple times) through the short-path distillation process described above, to purify it. Some suppliers will advertise “full-spectrum distillate” but this is contradictory. If terpenes or other bioactives are reintroduced after distillation, the product is sometimes also called broad spectrum.


Isolate is the purest form of extracted cannabinoids, a crystalline powder with a purity of 99.9%. It is created through additional solvent processes after distillation. The additional processing steps are expensive and the end result is extreme purity of the final product.

Information used in this document was found in articles from The National Institutions of Health the US National Library of Medicine. For more information: 


Information regarding Endocanabinoidome can be found at Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience: 


Broad Spectrum, Full Spectrum, Distillation and Isolate information was taken from New Frontier Data CannaScience: